These days, most people use software and designers are no exception. Whether it's something as complex as photoshop or just something to edit files and upload to your website, software plays a keep role in day-to-day business.
Unfortunately, purchasing software works a little differently when compared to physical purchases.
This is down to SaaS, or Software as a Service. If you value your software, it is important to understand how this agreement works and what it means for you.
1. You don’t own the software
In the majority of cases, when you install software you agree to an end user agreement. This is where SaaS comes into play and it only grants you a license to use the product. You do not own the software: even if you have a physical disc this only amounts to a purchased license.
As a result, you can't access the inner workings of the product, which in this case would be the source code. In short, you don't have control over something you depend on and use on a regular basis, which presents a big risk.
2. The provider MUST maintain the product
The other side of this contract, however, is that the provider has to maintain the product for you. Since they can access the code and you can't, they are the only ones in the position to do so. This is why companies often spend time making updates, patches and other fixes to programmes without you paying extra money.
It is their legal duty and if they don't do this you have a legal right to access the code yourself, effectively giving you ownership of the product.
3. You can use escrow to get better results!
While SaaS works in theory, realistic applications are a little different. It can often be difficult to prove when and how an SaaS contract was broken which means acquiring the code from the provider may take longer than you were hoping.
Escrow services add a little extra insurance to the software you depend on the most. You can find out more here.
Fortunately, escrow services exist to help you. By putting the code into the hands of someone else, the matter can be resolved much more quickly. Likewise, agencies can provide verification services to ensure the code the company is entering is actually valid.